72°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Move over winter, Oscars season is upon us!

Chiwetel+Ejiiofor%2C+Lupita+Nyongo%2C+and+director+Steve+McQueen+of+12+Years+a+Slave
Chiwetel Ejiiofor, Lupita Nyong’o, and director Steve McQueen of ’12 Years a Slave’

With the exception of Ryan Seacrest, almost everything about the Oscars makes me so excited with anticipation that I could cry tears more plentiful than Amy Adams’ boobage in “American Hustle.” I love the touching speeches, the beautiful and hilariously awful dresses, the nervous laughter that follows a joke about some star’s sex life, the feigned, “Oh, my god, you picked me?! I had no idea!” expressions after a name is called. It’s all just a big, dysfunctional Hollywood gift that keeps on giving.
Oh, right, and the films are pretty good too. Just kidding — I am a self-proclaimed film buff (some would use the word “snob”), and love going to the movies, whether they’re Oscar nominated or otherwise. I can securely say that this was hands down one of the best years for film in quite a long time. But given that there are around 6,000 Oscar voters, predicting the winners can be a challenge.
There are a few rules I set for myself during this painstaking prediction process. Firstly, it’s important to note who the winners of the preceding awards shows were, namely the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards. These earlier wins often create enough momentum that can sway the voting climate of the awards show season to lead a film to Oscar victory. Oh, the politics of voting.
Secondly, those old white guys in the Academy are careful not to be too progressive (anyone remember when “Brokeback Mountain” lost?) but GOODNESS do they love timeless movies. If a movie’s plot features rely too heavily on the here and now, or if it’s too voguish, or if you enjoyed watching the movie in theaters but don’t think it’ll hold up in the long run, then forget about that Oscar. This is why biopics and historical depictions often win — the story is sort of ingrained enough in public consciousness that telling a new version of an age-old tale is fresh but not ultramodern or too risque.
Using these guidelines, I’ll be sharing my Oscar predictions, only for the categories I’ve been following (sorry for all you sound-editing fans). But because I can rarely stop myself from offering a personal opinion, I’ll also be sharing my picks for best-whatevers.
Best Picture
Prediction: “12 Years a Slave”
Sam’s Pick: “Nebraska”
At first I thought “American Hustle” would win — there was a ton of hype behind this movie, especially when it first came out. But after a series of awards show successes, it turns out that “12 Years of Slave” looks like the clear winner. And it makes perfect sense — there has yet to be such a brutal, compelling depiction of the realities of American slavery (And no, I do not count Django). Coupled with the director Steve McQueen’s beautiful filmmaking makes this movie no less than Oscar gold.
I may have just praised the heck out of “12 Years a Slave,” but I’d have to say that “Nebraska” was my favorite movie of the year. Director Alexander Payne masterfully tackles every subtle and unsavory characteristic that is the humdrum of Middle America. I tend to lean towards movies with a strong sense of realism and coupled with the black and white minimalist cinematography, this film really struck home for me.
Best Actress
Prediction: Cate Blanchett in “Blue Jasmine”
Sam’s Pick: Amy Adams in “American Hustle”
Let me start by saying that both actresses were stellar with a capital S. Cate Blanchett has such a regal presence in every performance, I’m afraid her intensity is going to dissolve my soul. And Amy Adams is so captivating; there is not an actress I can think of that doesn’t completely and utterly throw herself into every role she takes on. This being said, Cate commanded as the lead role in “Blue Jasmine,” as she gradually moves her way towards becoming the next Meryl-esque Oscar darling.
Personally, I’m going to have to go with Amy on this one — I think she really outshined the star-studded cast of “American Hustle.” Her sass could not be contained, and for that, she gets my vote.
Best Actor
Prediction: Matthew McConaughey in “Dallas Buyers Club”
Sam’s Pick: Bruce Dern in “Nebraska”
This is a really tough prediction. Let’s begin with Leo — the amount of physical acting required for his role was quite impressive. But it’s well known that Oscars snub comedic performances, and it’s also tough because Leo has been nominated a handful of times and really deserves a win. The thing is, I’m not sure if McConCon will get nominated again, whereas I have no doubt that Leo will be. I think McConaughey did a solid job in a solid movie, but the Academy loves nothing more than a full body transformation, which I think will give him the win.
Personally, I would go with Bruce Dern in “Nebraska.” Not only is he a deserving Hollywood veteran, but his performance was raw, extremely dark, funny, and honest.
Best Supporting Actor
Prediction: Jared Leto in “Dallas Buyers Club”
Sam’s Pick: Jonah Hill in “Wolf of Wall Street”
Personally, I don’t think any one of these actors did an overly standout job. They were all great, yes, but no one really knocked it out of the park. But once again, drastic transformations will win, which is why Jared Leto will be receiving an Oscar for this role.
But you know what? I pick Jonah Hill. The fact that he comes from a more low-brow comedic background and really pulled out the punches for this role means a lot. And to his credit, he was really, really funny.
Best Supporting Actress
Prediction: Lupita Nyong’o in “12 Years a Slave”
Sam’s Pick: Lupita Nyong’o in “12 Years a Slave”
I’m just going to say it — I don’t think Jennifer Lawrence deserves this award. Now, before all you men — who think you deserve a girl like J.Law but just CAN’T FIND ONE — attack my opinion, let me explain. She was great in the role, and I think she’s a great actress overall (I especially loved her in “Winter’s Bone”). But I think this was such a small and somewhat inconsequential performance that it’s easily overshadowed by the sheer power of Lupita’s character in “12 Years a Slave.” I’m happy to say that the world is falling for Lupita, and gosh, does she deserve it.
Best Director
Prediction: Steve McQueen for “12 Years a Slave”
Sam’s Pick: Alfonso Cuaron for “Gravity”
I have a feeling that “12 Years a Slave” is going to sweep the Oscars, and I don’t think this will exclude Steve McQueen for Best Director. As stated above: great movie, great performances, great director. Done.
I, on the other hand, have to pick “Gravity.” While I thought many of the plot points were hamfisted, the cinematography and directing were breathtaking. My breath was literally taken away, and no, I don’t think it was the handfuls of popcorn.
There you have ’em! Now go to your local cinemas and scramble to check out this year’s Oscar nominees. Bonus points if you see the indies! Just make sure to check out the Oscars Sunday, March 2.